So, What Explains Car Accidents Before Videogames?

from the crash dept

It hardly needs repeating that videogames take the blame for many things these days, including violence and obesity. But those things are tired, and increasingly people are looking for new ills that can be attributed to videogames. The hot new one seems to be bad youth driving. Back in January, police blamed the game Need for Speed for an auto accident, because a copy of it was found in the wrecked car. And in the spring, a man used the game Grand Theft Auto as an excuse for thinking he could outrun the cops. Now in New Zealand, the government has responded to a recent fatal car accident involving teenagers by pointing the finger at videogame systems, saying they make teenagers feel “bulletproof” when they drive. Frankly, if you’ve ever spent a day playing a racing videogame, you might find feel this way for a moment when you get into a car, as your brain adjusts back to reality. But it’s hard to imagine that anyone would actually change their driving habits because of a game, unless they were really, well, stupid and reckless. Of course, young drivers have always been known to make stupid and reckless decisions, long before the advent of videogames, just as there has always been violence and obesity too.

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Comments on “So, What Explains Car Accidents Before Videogames?”

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PhysicsGuy says:

this makes me think of a story my grandfather told me. when he was young they would get drunk and then race the train jumping across the tracks in front of the train. i believe the story ended with “damn video games…” er, wait a second…

but on the subject, anyone who thinks they are “bulletproof” when they drive after playing a video game is a moron. how many times did they crash during the day? or at the least how many times did they crash before they got their timing and the course layout down? … this is about as smart as saying “people who play war games think they’re better at war..” … yea… if there’s one thing FPSes have taught me it’s that i never want to get into an actual gun fight…

arrg says:

Re: I agree

Even worse is playing paint ball.. If playing paint ball has taught me anything is it’s easy to get shot and hurts like hell…

If the video game theory is true, you would think paint ball is even more insidious (not that I do, it’s just a game) because it’s way more realistic then some third person shooter.

End of the day, stupid people do stupid things regardless of the video game they might have or not have played. That’s why they are stupid… I think these people pointing fingers at video games need to admit that people do stupid things and deal with the people.

People need to take responsibility for their actions, if we keep shoving the blame off onto other things we are going to turn in to a society of morons…

And by the way, 20 years ago when I was a teenager I almost wrecked my car racing a guy. It scared the crap out of me and I realized I was being…. STUPID!

PhysicsGuy says:


did i say it taught me about the physics of a gun fight? no… there’s no need to understand physics to understand that if you get shot in the head in a real gun fight, you don’t respawn and FPSes taught me the ease at which takes to get shot in the head… physics don’t help you at all in an actual gun fight… by the time you calculate the change in trajectory due to gravity based on the distance you are from the gun being fired you’re already dead… 😛 oh… and physics engines are getting pretty good in commercial games…

Xenos says:

Xenos is an idiot by 98732

Nowhere did PhysicsGuy claim anything about any games having anything to do with real physics, and if you had 2 brain cells working you would have assumed he meant that all FPS games involve getting shot dozens of times, something most people usually try to avoid.

Oh yah, gotta watch out for the bad guy bunny hopping all over the place in real life. Lets not forget most guns have a mouse/keyboard interface. Can you people not read-in to things? Am I the only Marine posting? FPS in fact “would” teach you “hey I can just respawn”.

Go to the gun store and buy one then learn to shoot it. Unless… you’re not even old enought to buy your own in which case; you fools don’t even matter.

Erstazi9 (user link) says:

Re: I was...

Army Infantry for 6 years. Seeing both sides of the fence of this issue, balance this out and take some logic from it. People should be responsible for themselves. Again, it even goes back to the calls for gun bans. Bullets don’t kill people, people kill people. Games don’t teach you to drive erratically, people drive erratically. I think this goes along the lines of cell phone use Techdirt has covered over and over again. This is plain and simple. Also, Xenos, I am not too sure how long you have been out (or are still in), but many combat units are now training with video games. A lot of friends who are still in speak of these various games.

Dano says:

Re: Xenos is an idiot by 98732

“Go to the gun store and buy one then learn to shoot it. Unless… you’re not even old enought to buy your own in which case; you fools don’t even matter.”

A Marine?? You were trained to serve and protect this country’s youth so that the future of it can be preserved, and you’re saying that they don’t matter??? What kind of scum bag are you?? How about you get over yourself and think about what you’re saying.

You are right that in an FPS you respawn, after getting shot with sometimes multiple bullets. But if you think that people would learn “Hey I can just respawn” then you’re the biggest idiot that posts here. Anyone who has ever lost a family member, friend, or even pet, knows that death is permanent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Video games are only the latest excuse

TV was an excuse prior to video games. And while I don’t believe either to be a valid excuse, you can see a grain of truth in it. If you watch enough of the “car chase” programs out there you will occasionally see them question one of the people who ran from the police. If asked why they ran they frequently don’t know the answer, or just assumed they would be able to outrun the police. If you can evade the police on TV or in a video game, you should be able to do it in real life too, right?

Obviously these people aren’t really good at critical thinking, and TV and video games shouldn’t get the blame for that.

Arochone (user link) says:


Lemme tell ya, there may be a bit of truth to this. I’m fully against blaming videogames for violence and such, but I’m just learning to drive, and playing TORCS for about 10 minutes screwed me up pretty bad. And if you know anything about TORCS, it’s a pretty crappy racing game. Came free on Mandriva. Didn’t take long to adjust, and nothing bad happened from it, but if I was playing Need for Speed all day long, I dunno. I have a friend who crashed his dirtbike and spent the recovery time playing Motocross Madness a few years ago. Took him a month or two to be able to get back on the bike.

wolff000 says:

Shoot Everyone Who Blames Games

It wouldn’t solve anything but I would feel better. What happened to being accountable for thier actions? If you wreck your car it’s because you either A drive like an idiot, B the guy that hit you drove like an idiot, or C you lost it due to circumstances beyond your control, ie ice, deer in the road, etc. Even with circumstances beyond your control it was probably something you could have at least avoided like not driving too fast and paying attention. People need to be accountable again and so many problems would be solved.

C. J. says:

Racing games inciting one to want to drive faster, and more recklesslesy with more confidence? Sure, I can see the semblance. However, I love racing games. Probably my favorite genre. Currently, I am playing Moto GP 06… and if there is anything that I have learned from that game, is that crashing looks like it hurts. So I will continue to be the careful driver that I have always been. Even if I do know a thing or two more about racing lines, handling… etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

wow. people are really against this.

and i am to, but i’ll try and see the other side.

desensitizing. that’s the name of the game. just because you can “walk away from an accident where your car blows up, or respawn after you get shot” adds to the sense that there are some things we can do. We see war on TV’s high speed chases where the guy crashes and walks away (he gets arrested, but he’s still alive) we have movies where there are massive violence and no one pays. (Hero offs about 50 people, police don’t do anything) so yeah, it get ingraned that we may not be invincible, but there is a line that we can cross and get away with it. So I can see the “logic” behind this. It may be a leap to get there, but there is still some “connection”

Chronno S. Trigger says:


I’m really glad you posted that link. That was the funniest read I’ll probably have all day. Makes me want to update my PSP web site.

Every one should wright to them and ask why they don’t have any real evidence as to why video games are bad and why parents shouldn’t just turn them off if they think its too much.

Shoot4fun says:


“Why can’t we all just get along?”

Because no one wans to admit that they are Mortal.

Video games are no more dangerous than my 12 gauge shotgun in the closet, or my Glock .40 in my night stand.

As it has been stated many times, in many ways, Stupid people make Stupid choices. You can teach a child the difference between right and wrong. You CANNOT control his or her actions/reactions. Children learn by watching the adults in their lives. If you’re stupid, chances are your children will be too.

I am a former Marine. I am a Father. I am a son.
Common sense really isn’t all that common anymore.

gdwntx says:


We have created this problem . People who would not have lived past birth or even into their teens now suvive and live and breed making more and more Homomoronis (subspecies of Homosapien) In our zest and need to save all lives we alowed stupid fools to live when naturel selection would have weeded them out. Science can go to far lol

Anonymous Coward says:

When i first got behind the wheel of a car, i had no license, and no prior experience. I drove better than 80% of the drivers on our streets. Who do i give thanks to this? The NFS series. Which in fact is a lot more fun than real driving. So when i first grabbed the wheel and drove for a few miles, i thought to myself, this is boring, but i sure as hell didn’t feel like running over prostitutes, or pedestrians.

Just my two cents.

Scott says:


Why is everyone pointing fingers at America? Granted, we are a country full of idiots, but clearly WE AREN’T THE ONLY ONES, as the basis of this article is about an accident that took place in NEW ZEALAND, not America. Perhaps the article needs a better writer? But even still, all of this talk about respawning and people driving horrible because of video games, well, it all comes back to A.) responsibility for your actions (as mentioned so much ahead of my post) and B.) better parenting (because if your parents had told you that video games WEREN’T real then you probably wouldn’t be driving 150+ mph down the freeway).

lil'bit says:

There isn’t much hope for us, when we cannot debate a subject without name-calling. Contrary to the beliefs of The Man, you don’t have to be with me or against me – there are shades of gray. Your opinion is just as valid as mine, even if it is moronic. Why 97832 had to get insulting is beyond me. While his point was certainly valid and I even agreed with it in part, I was totally turned off by the hateful way in which it was said.

You know what? There is probably a good chance that videogames do have an influence on behavior, although I doubt it is as directly connected as those who “blame” video games try and make it. It may even be a good influence on behavior, but, as is obvious from this string of comments, we will probably never get past the name calling and do a proper study.

I don’t know if TV has had as horrible an effect as the anti-TV crowd has claimed. I find it laughable that cartoons have been edited so kids won’t think they can really walk off a cliff and just hang suspended, like Wiley E. Coyote and Elmer Fudd. Besides never having heard of this actually happening, it can be a good thing. No one that stupid, or from parents that stupid, really needs to grow up and reproduce themselves. It goes without saying that the parents of that child really don’t need to leave any lasting evidence of their stupidity either. (I don’t, by the way, believe it was ever a problem, so the ‘stupid’ comments are meant tongue-in-cheek)

TV has obviously given us a chance to experience things we may never have had the opportunity to know. I doubt I would have ever made it to the Kalahari Desert to observe Meerkats in person, but I sure do enjoy watching them on Animal Planet. So there’s one good thing for which we can thank television.

I strongly believe that the episodic nature of most TV shows – the idea that one’s problems can be solved in 22 or 55 minutes; the disconnection between events that happen today with yesterday’s events and tomorrow’s – that’s a bad thing I attribute to television. I believe that disconnect is directly responsible for much of the bs we are living through right now. Would we be in Iraq if the mainstream media had given us in-depth coverage, explaining the history of how Iraq came about and the beliefs and history of the people who live there? How about if the MM reminded us of the strong connection between the Bush Administration, Iran-Contra, support for Bin-Laden (!!) when he was doing our dirty work in Afganistan? I would hope that, had the media been more forthcoming instead of cheerleading us right into invasion, more people would have questioned the motives of our administration and perhaps public opinion against the invasion would have been great enough to stop it.

I am convinced that Hussein’s trial was held in Iraq, delibrately rushed and barely of the law, let alone justice, so Cheney and Rumsfield could cover something up or keep it from coming out – some connection to Hussein they would rather not see made public. The latest, the rush to execute, just strengthens my conviction.

There again – would it even be an issue if people connected the dots, if the media provided real in-depth coverage? But no, it is presented as stand-alone news, like it doesn’t have any effect on anything else around it.

I wonder if Bush would have even come close to having enough votes to steal an election in 2000, if the media had filled us in on the backgrounds of the people he surrounded himself with – like Cheney et al. I keep learning new things about old news – connections between this administration and the Nixon administration, for example, that have me screaming “Why didn’t they tell us this stuff before the electiom in 2000 or even 2004!?!”

And now our little empire is on it’s way down, like the British Empire before us and all 8 years of Bush have managed to do has been to hasten our decline. Don’t believe me? The CIA released a study about 3 years ago indicating that the US would lose it’s rank as the number one superpower (in all respects, not just or even partly in military and political power) in about 15 years – and that was much less time than it was before January 2001.

You had to be looking at the little tiny articles buried in the back pages of the paper to read about it; that was one story that didn’t come close to making it onto the front page, let alone an evening news program.

AlphaNerd01 says:

I read about this, and...

Video games are to blame for kids getting into accidents just like kids wrestling in the backyard and getting hurt is Hulk Hogan’s fault.

There MIGHT be some ties to the two things, but in the end, the kid is just stupid. Honestly, developers can’t account for morons who think they can emulate (hey, I made a joke!) what they see in video games, just like the WWE isn’t going to put disclaimers on the Hulkster’s Speedo.

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